A NOTE TO PASTORS ABOUT THE ARTS
You have a job to do.
I’m sure you’ve probably read it before. It’s in the Bible which you should have read…. but let’s recap.
“It was he (Jesus) who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
In this passage it says that Christ gave out these different giftings and abilities (being teachers, pastors, evangelists, prophets) to do something. Why did Christ make these people this certain way?
TO PREPARE God’s people for works of service….
SO THAT the BODY OF CHRIST MAY be BUILT UP….
until WE ALL reach UNITY in faith and in the KNOWLEDGE of the Son of God…. etc etc.
The first thing that stands out to me and maybe a lot of you is that it’s not your job to be the full time everything. There are four giftings mentioned and it’s not implying that these all have to be in one person. This should be an insight for anyone in leadership that you’ll need others to work with – others who can fill in your gaps as a leader.
The second thing I see, and specifically for pastors, is it that you’re not the professional Christian who does everything and everyone shows up on Sundays to hear about your exploits. Your job is to prepare others. To encourage, build up, mentor, pour into other people so that they would live into their lives the calling of being Jesus’ disciple. Pastors are there to prepare God’s people for works of service so that the whole body of Christ may be built up.
If you’re called to be a pastor and shepherd a flock, one of the first things you’ll need to do is to look at who is around you and build those people up… in whatever way they need you to. If you look around and you see artists in your community… well, you – the pastor, evangelist, the prophet, the teacher…. YOU… it’s your job to prepare the artists for works of service.
Works of service? Let’s look at this just a little bit.
According to Jesus, this is what the work God requires looks like….
“Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
and Paul says in Ephesians 2:10 that…
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
If God has made people to be artists…. then their work lives into that calling…. believing that Jesus is over all things, who He said He is, and that the Almighty has prepared good works for them to do.
If you worked at a job placement business, and a job came up for a catering gig, and you had two applicants – one a baker and another one a jet-ski mechanic – which one would you choose? Probably the one with the skills closest to accomplishing this job successfully.
If God is a lot more smarter than us, and created each and every one of us… don’t’ you think He’s going to do something similar with our lives? I’m not saying that God’s will for our lives is to have a certain job, but He has wired each one of us uniquely and I believe we are most complete in our lives when we are involved with work that “fits” us the best. You getting me?
So for artists…. their journey is to be makers, creators, fabricators, producers of work. This is what they do. And if they are in the midst of your flock, you are an essential person in preparing them for the works of service that are before them. Works that along with others build up the Body in the unity of faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God.
There has been of late a call to involve the arts in more of our rhythms as a Church. I think this is a good call…. as long as it’s not just the next new thing to be hip and “relevant”. A community with no artists who tries to incorporate artistic expression isn’t likely to produce anything good. I mean if you tried to incorporate Kung Fu into your M.O.P.S. gatherings it would make no sense…. unless most of the mothers in the class practiced Kung Fu. Then there would probably be good fruit that would come out of that.
So how can you help as a pastor?
Well, speaking of Mothers Of Pre Schoolers…. If you have a bunch of them in your church, what do you do? You create a MOPS program or something that tends to their needs and spiritual development.
If your church is in the midst of a creative community and you have many artists involved in your everyday life, what do you do? I would say do a similar thing. Help them create something that tends to their needs and their spiritual development.
I think there are varying levels of involvement you can do with this.
This is fairly easy but can have massive affect on your artists.
Look… every artist has a voice in their head that says what they are doing is irresponsible and they should get a real job. It’s hard to figure out how to make a living as an artist and most people who even attempt to do it habitually are doomed to a life of bi-vocationalism. It’s not a fun road to choose.
Giving value to people is one of the best things Jesus did while He lived on this earth – to the sinners, the forgotten, the enemies of the state. Giving value is a way to seek and save those who are lost. To be the doctor to the sick and not the healthy.
You just sitting down with them and talking this through, encouraging them on their course, asking them how they see their involvement in building up the body of Christ will mean the world. Maybe even bring in some speakers or someone who can speak to this specific journey would be a great help if you don’t think you can quite vocalize all that they need to hear.
To know the leadership of the church cares is a really good step forward.
2. Involve in worship
Let’s admit it. There are the 3 untouchables for every service…. Preaching, singing, and tithing. You can’t have a service without them (I’m being sarcastic but it’s true to some peeps), and everything else besides those is considered negotiable. I understand that a gathering is a unique experience, and I understand that not every gift under the sun can be utilized during an hour service. But you as a leader should be thinking through how this whole big body of different gifts is invited to worship (respond to) the king. There can be so much more than just the untouchable 3. If you have artists, you’ll need to think this through this as well. A good start might be asking them how they would like to be involved in your corporate gatherings. Maybe inviting them to create on the subject of your upcoming series. Maybe encouraging them to pray and create what the spirit is putting on their heart. Whatever you come up with, invite them into responding to God with their gifts.
3. Create Ebenezers
When God took people on a journey, whether spiritually or geographically, he would have them periodically stop, create a monument to remember Who was bringing on this journey, and then continue on.
What is the journey of your community? What are the stories of answered prayer, corporate suffering, visions, the work of the church? How are you remembering the stories that have created your community to be the thing it is today?
Faith works like this: when we come to something we don’t know how we are going to make it through, we RECALL God’s character/previous actions and use that knowledge to move forward in trust that He will do the same thing. Faith involves recalling. What in your place of worship does that for you? Could you commission your artists to help you with that?
I think you could.
4. Give space
This is the ultimate involvement that most churches will never get to… and that’s
provide space for the arts. There are 3 types of space that artist need:
1. a space to create – mentally, emotionally, timely
2. a space to work – a studio, room, etc
3. a space to show – gallery, walls, stage, etc
The church that supports the arts is great. A church that makes art will change things. If you really want to mobilize your artists to their fullest potential, they’ll need space to do it in.
My last 3 studios have been in churches. I create out of those churches. The art I make is in direct relationship to the space they provided. They enabled me to move forward. Whatever impact I have made on the world is because of them.
If you want to affect culture, give space to artists. Artists create culture.
Check out the fruit from the Fremont Abbey Art Center in Seattle. The Abbey was created by Church of the Apostles.
My friend Ben Katt made a good comment below with a fifth option, so I’m just going to put it in here
“May I also suggest a fifth option?
Churches can also help cultivate spaces/moments/events for artists to create and facilitate worship beyond the Sunday worship service. In other words, a worship service-type event that doesn’t include the big three (preaching, singing, tithing) you refer to. As you know, some friends of ours in Seattle have been doing this, and it is a really unique event. Formerly, “Urban Hymnal”, now known as “The Opiate Mass” (http://theopiatemass.com/). This event is somewhat of a combination of the four things you mention above, and yet it doesn’t “belong” to one church, but is a collaborative effort of artists from different churches and also involves the patronage of a network of smaller churches (http://www.parishcollective.org/). These churches have enough trouble staffing one person and can’t afford to staff an artist, nor do they have space to give artists (for studios or galleries) since they simply don’t have their own spaces like many larger churches do.”
These are good words from Ben. The Opiate Mass is an amazing event and actually the perfect model for what I think artists in the church need to do. But that’s a whole other essay…..
For artists, it’s a great sacrifice of time, relationships, and finances to create work. If you can help an artist with these things, you will help them in their journey to do what they know God has asked them to do. If you’re a pastor and you have artists in your community, please involve yourself with their lives. This is the work you are being asked to do.